Corrugated Recycling

Sustainability issues were at the heart of the conversation

On 17th May, DS Smith welcomed officials from DEFRA’s Resources & Waste Team to its Kemsley Paper Mill for a site visit that coincided with the conclusion of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy consultations.

As the UK’s largest recycled paper mill, Kemsley reprocesses up to 30% of the UK’s recycled paper and board feedstock, producing over 825,000 tonnes of recycled papers per year. The tour focused on the challenges of producing high quality performance packaging papers while meeting the increasing performance and recyclability demands of consumers and brands.

Sustainability issues were also at the heart of the conversation, with the Mill demonstrating how the 2.5 billion discarded coffee cups in the UK could be recycled at Kemsley and used in new packaging products if collected separately.

In addition to the paper recycling process, the DEFRA team was given an overview of waste management and energy challenges at the Mill. These included the on-site anaerobic digestion capability for dealing with organic waste from the paper making process, as well as the Mill’s recently commissioned new combined heat and power (CHP) plant, which will help reduce carbon emission on site by around 36,000 tonnes every year. Officials were particularly impressed with the size and scope of DS Smith’s Kemsley operations, as well as its continued investment into recycling more ‘hard to reprocess’ materials.

The site tour followed hot on the heels of DS Smith’s announcement that separate collections for paper and board have demonstrable financial benefits, according to research involving Reigate and Banstead Council, one of DS Smith’s customers. According to this research, £100m in savings could be realised by local authorities, were the concept adopted nationwide.

Commenting on the visit, Peter Clayson, Head of Government and Community Affairs for DS Smith Group, said, “We were delighted to welcome the team from Defra to our Kemsley facility and to offer an insight into the work we do. The visit was a timely and important opportunity for DEFRA to learn more about our operations, industry views and experiences, particularly following the recently-concluded Resources and Waste Strategy consultations. These consultations will really help shape the performance of the recycling industry over the coming years. DS Smith is a reprocessor as well as a collector, which means we see first-hand the importance of quality in recycling materials used in manufacturing processes. Our own research here at Kemsley shows that contamination of paper and board for recycling that comes through mixed collection streams can be up to double that of what we would expect from streams where paper and board are collected separately. Recent work from some of our customers has shown that the financial case for separate collections is a compelling one.”